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The Importance of an Internship in an MPA Program

There are many reasons to pursue a Master of Public Administration degree. Whether coming to the online MPA program directly from an undergraduate program or from an existing career, students who wish to work in government, public service or nonprofits will find the coursework and knowledge in an MPA program beneficial. One of the most important factors in an MPA program can be the public affairs internship, a component that offers students hands-on experience.

Diverse population

An online program can offer the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people who have real-world work experience. The public affairs internship offers students the chance to use what they have learned in class and from fellow students. Within an internship, students learn to adjust their skills, knowledge and expectations to meet the needs of a real work environment. This is useful for students coming directly from school who may not have any real-world experience, and also for those students coming from a previous career who are recalibrating their knowledge and abilities to a new field or position.

Hands-on experience

One of the most important benefits of the public affairs internship as part of an online MPA program is the opportunity for students to try different jobs and work environments. The internship gives students the chance to turn their online interactions and learning into hands-on experience. Students gain feedback from and share information with peers both in person and in the online school forum. This can enrich the students' experience much more than a single component of the program could do on its own.

Resume enhancement

Another advantage of a public affairs internship is the additional experience that can enhance a student's resume. Students who enter the program directly from undergraduate programs gain work experience in the fields they want to pursue. For those students coming from other careers or looking to advance within their current careers, an internship can add to their resumes in their desired fields.

No matter the reason for pursuing an online MPA program, it is beneficial to look for a program that includes an internship. The public affairs internship and coursework combine to offer students a well-rounded and diverse experience. This varied approach can help students pursue a career in a number of different fields and gives students the tools they need to succeed.

Learn more about the UT Arlington online MPA program.


Urban Planning Careers. (n.d.). Retrieved October 21, 2015, from

Ivey, J. (2014, March 3). Should You Get a Master of Public Administration (MPA)? Retrieved October 17, 2015, from

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